Why is Josh Mora Being Fired From Comcast SportsNet?

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Posted by fish on October 28, 2009 at 10:30:59:

Imagine if you broke one of the biggest stories of the summer in Chicago sports, and you're now out of a job. That's what Josh Mora must be wondering.

You may have noticed Josh has been conspicously absent from Comcast SportsNet's pre, intermission & postgame coverage of Chicago Blackhawks hockey this season in favor of Chris Boden alongside Steve Konroyd. It was also revealed that Mora's contract will NOT be renewed when it expires in February. According to a column written Sunday by Sun-Times columnist Carol Slezak, it may have had something to do with Mora breaking one of the biggest stories of the summer of 2009.

Mora, who had reported on the Hawks for the regional sports network since 2005, was first to report that the team had fired General Manager Dale Tallon in favor of Stan Bowman back in July. The news first appeared on CSNchicago.com, complete with a blog of facts & opinion about Tallon's reassignment & Bowman's hiring.

There's been speculation that the post angered the current Blackhawks' management, but after speaking to Team President John McDonough since his reassignment, Josh felt his working relationship with McDonough was still good. He refused to state why CSN bosses suddenly soured on him, and why CSN Senior News Director Charlie Schumacher decided to part company with Mora when his contract expires.

Sometimes, honesty not best policy
It would be a shame if Comcast parted with Mora under pressure from Hawks

October 25, 2009
BY CAROL SLEZAK Sun-Times Columnist

Those who have tuned in to Comcast SportsNet to watch the Blackhawks this season surely have noticed that Josh Mora no longer is hosting the pregame and postgame shows. In fact, he has been taken off the Hawks beat all together. The network also has informed Mora, whose contract is up in February, that it won't be re-signing him.

Anyone familiar with Mora's work knows that he's an excellent reporter and host. He had been Comcast's go-to guy guy on the Hawks since 2005 and knows the team inside and out. He always provided solid information and sound analysis, and he had good chemistry with co-host Steve Konroyd. He also is a tireless worker. Hawks fans know this, and Comcast knows it, too. So you have to wonder what happened.

Speculation abounds that Mora's blog entry about former general manager Dale Tallon's demotion resulted in his own ouster. In July, Mora beat the rest of us to the news that Tallon was about to be demoted in favor of Stan Bowman. Mora broke the news in his blog on Comcast's Web site. This particular post contained plenty of facts and opinion about Tallon's reassignment. If you want to read it yourself, you still can find it online, but it will take some digging because Comcast pulled it off the Web site shortly after it was posted. (At last check, it was still up at www.tergle.com/forums/hockey/8793-hawks-fire-tallon-stan-bowman-gm.html.)

Here's an excerpt from the blog post in question:

''First, some thoughts about Bowman. Stan is a very sharp guy. Though his background is the financial side, rather than the player/scouting side, he's been around hockey all his life. [He was named after the Stanley Cup, for Pete's sake!] He's been involved in the decisions about on-ice personnel since I've been around the team. With Stan, the club is in good hands going forward.

''But how Stan ascends to the general manager's position, and how it became available in the first place, betrays big political maneuverings in the front office. Those kinds of things are never healthy. ... These kinds of manifestations of petty jealousies are worrisome for a franchise that has had so much going in the right direction.''

Reporter stands by his work
This is exactly the kind of insight Hawks fans had grown to expect from Mora. As always, his assessment was reasoned and fair. But there has been speculation that the post angered Hawks management. Given that the Hawks own a stake in Comcast, well, you can connect the dots. If true, that would be shameful. Not only because Mora merely was doing his job, but because it would mean Comcast had allowed the Hawks to interfere with its news operation.

I've seen Mora recently at Halas Hall and Notre Dame Stadium, but he didn't want to talk about this situation. But I called him this week, and he answered a few questions. He said Comcast senior news director Charlie Schumacher told him about the network's decision to part ways with him, but he wasn't given an explanation. He said he has spoken with Hawks president John McDonough since his reassignment and thinks he and McDonough have a good relationship. He refused to speculate about why Comcast suddenly soured on him, saying only: ''I've never had any more fun in my job than covering the Hawks last season, and I've really enjoyed my time and the people I worked with at Comcast. I will let my work for the past five years -- and especially last year -- stand on its own.''

'No interference ... whatsoever'
When I checked the Comcast Web site on Friday, ''Bring Mora back'' was a common sentiment on the message boards.

As expected, Comcast didn't want to share its reason for taking Mora off the Hawks' beat. My call to Schumacher was referred to a spokesman.

''Plain and simple, we're always evaluating our program and personnel, and we decided to make a change,'' the spokesman said.

The spokesman insisted neither the Hawks' organization nor Mora's blog had anything to do with the decision.

''There was no interference [from the Hawks],'' he said. ''None whatsoever.''

The spokesman said that Comcast encourages its reporters to break news stories and that it believes in being honest with viewers. He said the blog in question was ''up for a number of days after the incident.''

I suppose it's possible that the events in question -- Tallon's demotion, the disappearing blog post and Mora being kicked to the curb -- are unrelated. I truly hope they are. I'd hate to think Mora lost his job because he dared to be honest. Both he and Hawks fans deserve better than that.

And, of course, Comcast should know better than that.

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